Words by: DUNCAN QUINN
I’m sure there is too much of a good thing. There’s certainly too much of something you think is a good thing but which others older and wiser tell you is a bad thing.
Like tequila shots for instance. Or that crazy ex.
Unfortunately as with most things of this nature it is tough to gain perspective without practice. Which is probably why I continue to go too fast and continue to think its a good thing.
After all, if God had intended us to go slow he wouldn’t have invented super cars. Or speed.
We seem to have entered a renaissance in the time of super, hyper and ultra cars.
Despite a focus on fuel economy, electric power for around town trundling, and
the race to escape fossil fuel, nothing has come this close to echoing the need for
speed last seen in the early 1970s just before everything went tits up, OPEC style.
Martini is back in Formula 1, Gulf is reverting to its old skool logo, stripes abound and brown is the new black for Porsches.
If Steve McQueen wandered in from the desert I probably wouldn’t even be that surprised. And he’d feel more at home than he would have done for years.
I even had a tango orange Aston Martin Vanquish to play with. And spotted another powder blue version
But this time around I was attacking the twisties of the Angeles Crest Highway 4000 feet up in a silver grey Volante rag top. The hair dresser of the stable. And yet still just as much fun as its more refined looking hardtop brother.
S button on. Suspension in track mode. Exhausts blaring. Wind blowing.
And of course, Led Zepp on the stereo.
It is the 1970′s again, after all.
Words by: DUNCAN QUINN
“If it flies, floats or f*!ks, rent it, don’t buy it,” said Tommy Earl Bruner in Dan Jenkins’ novel,Baja Oklahoma (1981).
Sage advice perhaps. If you are Scrooge McDuck.
On the other hand, if you’re of a slightly more hedonistic bent seeking to execute the bucket list you’ve see online (and add a few to boot) you’ll be wanting a Wally.
Forget all that crap about the two happiest days of a man’s life (day he buys boat, day he sells boat…). And just feast your eyes on this beauty.
Sublime in proportion, outrageous in execution, and perfection in motion, offloading several pallets of Benjamins on one will free you up for some fun.
And not just any old fun.
Even if you are the type who requires sea bands and a handful of dramamine you’d be hard pressed to convince me you’re not sold. And by the way, rum punch, ‘quinn & tonik’ or a dirty martini are probably just as good for your sea legs as those pills.
To any aesthete a Wally is a piece of art. The fact that you can frolic in one off the beach of your favorite watering hole in the SoF, Carib, Indian Ocean or other haunt of choice is merely an aside to the pleasures of looking at her.
Of course you want to take her out to ride the waves and battle the winds. And you must. For as with all dazzling beauties she’ll quickly tire of you if all you do is gawp without challenging her through her paces.
And so with this in mind, I found myself standing on the quay in Nice, France, as the tender blasted into view with my pal Ben Bartlett aboard. Ready to whisk me off to MC to indulge in some Wally love on the Hamilton. Great expectations are never a good thing to have. But sometimes even great expectations can be fulfilled…
Intro by: DUNCAN QUINNWords by: JOHN T. SCOTTand ROBERT ZARETSKY
I was having lunch with a friend only this week who has been reading the 48 Laws of Power. But just as with most things, its better to go to the source for the best version. Hence, here is a little something from two learned gentlemen on the continued relevance today of one of the finest pieces ever written on strategy. The Prince. By Niccolò Machiavelli.
This article first appeared in the New York Times on December 9, 2013.
FIVE hundred years ago, on Dec. 10, 1513, Niccolò Machiavelli sent a letter to his friend Francesco Vettori, describing his day spent haggling with local farmers and setting bird traps for his evening meal. A typical day for the atypical letter writer, who had changed from his mud-splattered clothes to the robes he once wore as a high official in the Florentine republic.
Toward the end of the letter Machiavelli mentions for the first time a “little work” he was writing on politics. This little work was, of course, “The Prince.” One of the remarkable things about “The Prince” is not just what Machiavelli wrote, but that he was able to write at all. Just 10 months earlier, he endured the “strappado”: Hands tied behind his back, he was strung to a prison ceiling and repeatedly plunged to the floor. Having at the time just been given the task of overseeing the foreign policy and defense of his native city, he was thrown out of his office when the Medici family returned to power. The new rulers suspected him of plotting against them and wanted to hear what he had to say. Machiavelli prided himself on not uttering a word.
He may well have saved his words for “The Prince,” dedicated to a member of the family who ordered his torture: Lorenzo de Medici. With the book, Machiavelli sought to persuade Lorenzo that he was a friend whose experience in politics and knowledge of the ancients made him an invaluable adviser.History does not tell us if Lorenzo bothered to read the book. But if he did, he would have learned from his would-be friend that there are, in fact, no friends in politics.
“The Prince” is a manual for those who wish to win and keep power. The Renaissance was awash in such how-to guides, but Machiavelli’s was different. To be sure, he counsels a prince on how to act toward his enemies, using force and fraud in war. But his true novelty resides in how we should think about our friends. It is at the book’s heart, in the chapter devoted to this issue, that Machiavelli proclaims his originality.
Set aside what you would like to imagine about politics, Machiavelli writes, and instead go straight to the truth of how things really work, or what he calls the “effectual truth.” You will see that allies in politics, whether at home or abroad, are not friends. Perhaps others had been deluded about the distinction because the same word in Italian — “amici” — is used for both concepts. Whoever imagines allies are friends, Machiavelli warns, ensures his ruin rather than his preservation. There may be no students more in need of this insight, yet less likely to accept it, than contemporary Americans, both in and outside the government. Like the political moralizers Machiavelli aims to subvert, we still believe a leader should be virtuous: generous and merciful, honest and faithful. Yet Machiavelli teaches that in a world where so many are not good, you must learn to be able to not be good. The virtues taught in our secular and religious schools are incompatible with the virtues one must practice to safeguard those same institutions. The power of the lion and the cleverness of the fox: These are the qualities a leader must harness to preserve the republic.
For such a leader, allies are friends when it is in their interest to be. (We can, with difficulty, accept this lesson when embodied by a Charles de Gaulle; we have even greater difficulty when it is taught by, say, Hamid Karzai.) What’s more, Machiavelli says, leaders must at times inspire fear not only in their foes but even in their allies — and even in their own ministers. What would Machiavelli have thought when President Obama apologized for the fiasco of his health care rollout? Far from earning respect, he would say, all he received was contempt. As one of Machiavelli’s favorite exemplars, Cesare Borgia, grasped, heads must sometimes roll. (Though in Borgia’s case, he meant it quite literally, though he preferred slicing bodies in half and leaving them in a public square.) Machiavelli has long been called a teacher of evil. But the author of “The Prince” never urged evil for evil’s sake. The proper aim of a leader is to maintain his state (and, not incidentally, his job). Politics is an arena where following virtue often leads to the ruin of a state, whereas pursuing what appears to be vice results in security and well-being. In short, there are never easy choices, and prudence consists of knowing how to recognize the qualities of the hard decisions you face and choosing the less bad as what is the most good.
Those of us who see the world, if not in Manichaean, at least in Hollywoodian terms, will recoil at such claims. Perhaps we are right to do so, but we would be wrong to dismiss them out of hand. If Machiavelli’s teaching concerning friends and allies in politics is deeply disconcerting, it is because it goes to the bone of our religious convictions and moral conventions. This explains why he remains as reviled, but also as revered, today as he was in his own age.
JOHN SCOTT AND ROBERT ZARETSKY are, respectively, the chairman of the department of political science at the University of California, Davis, and a professor of history at the University of Houston. They are the authors of “The Philosophers’ Quarrel: Rousseau, Hume and the Limits of Human Understanding.”
Words by: DUNCAN QUINN
Every now and again I am lucky enough to be extended an unusual invite. One which immerses me in a pool of talent and knowledge crafted over generations.
Distilled and refined through the ages to nurture and protect something special. And thus I landed at Harry’s in Hanover Square. As a lone interloper at a dinner to honor the indomitable Harry. And to bring the creme of Bordeaux’s wine producers to break bread together and hear about Harry’s plans.
Given my penchant for practicing the dark art of things which can never be perfected, what better chance to increase my knowledge of Bordeaux than to attend?
Harry came to New York from Greece to follow in the footsteps of an uncle he had heard had become incredibly successful. Unfortunately the truth didn’t quite align with the tales. So he soon found himself working as a busboy in a restaurant. Hard work and application brought for him the American dream. And his love of Bordeaux brought him respect. His integrity trumped his desire for money. So much so that if he didn’t think you would appreciate the extraordinary and also inordinately expensive wine you were ordering he would instruct the sommelier to tell you it was out of stock.
Which may explain in part the gathering of the great and the good of Bordeaux to break bread at his table. And hear others from his team regale of his plans. For with his son, Peter, the game is afoot. Eataly may be the bastion of Italian cuisine brought to Gotham by Mario Batali. But Harry is bringing 180,000sf of France into play. Restaurants, markets, bakeries. The best of all things French teleported to Manhattan. Complete with Michelin chefs, Grand Cru Classe wine, and patisseries made with enough butter to frighten the bejesus out of your cardiologist.
And what did I learn? Well. I learned never to enter a finger fight with a Count. Especially if the Count in question is the sartorial dervish of a charm offensive that is Stephan von Neipperg, Count of the Holy Roman Empire. A man who not only can talk the birds from the trees, but also take on the Most Interesting Man In The World and probably win.
Every now and again its good to up your game. And the best way is to choose to play with someone who can teach you a trick or two.
So I’m looking forward to a visit to Bordeaux soon. To learn more. After all, knowledge is power.
Words by: DUNCAN QUINN
The holy trinity of selling. And Alex Baldwin does it well. Impossibly well. But another combination springs to mind which we decided to fully investigate in the balmy climes of Los Angeles while New York was buried in snow and ice.
Auchentoshan. Burns Night. Chateau.
For good measure we threw in a few other ABC’s. Aston Martin. Bowmore. Cohiba. And then went off piste spoiling everyone involved with spoons full of Pointy Snout Caviar and a fountain of Krug.
It’s become a family tradition to draw together a merry band of thieves to celebrate the life of the original Scot’s playboy, Robert Burns, in January every year. And when in need of an excuse for a party his greatest legacy may be not only his philosophical poetry but a fine excuse to gather together kindred spirits while imbibing some serious spirits.
Thus we ended up in Los Angeles to get to grips with a particularly fine Aston Martin DB9 in the mornings and a triumvirate of hand crafted and special scotch in the evenings.
Auchentoshan is one of only three surviving lowland malt whisky distillers. Triple distilled just north of Glasgow it was the easy starter for ten of the night closely followed by Glen Garioch and Bowmore. Suddenly Burns Night had turned into a haggis fueled whisky tasting. Bowmore Oyster shooters, haggis, bagpipes and carefully controlled chaos.
Highlights of the night? Johnnie Mundell the master of malt, a full haze of Cohiba Comidors at full steam, and an illicit run to No Vacancy to close them down for the night.
Words by: ROBERT COLLINS
Published in 1989, two years after The Bonfire of the Vanities shone its fictional light on Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe, this is Lewis’s giddy, addictive inside account of the yearshe spent as a Salomon Brothers bond trader in the insanely profitable sweet spot of the mid-1980s.
A quarter of a century after it came out, it’s still the all-time rogues’ bible of unbridled, unfettered corporate excess. It’s The Devil Wears Pinstripes and Braces with Big Golden Dollar Signs on Them. (Lewis wore a pair on his first day at Salomon. The braces were red. He was told to take them the fuck off. “Managing directors are the only guys who can get away with wearing suspenders.”)
The bawling, badass bond merchants of Salomon Brothers were the guys that Tom Wolfe watched in bloody action when he was researching The Bonfire of the Vanities
Lewis, instead, lived it. He was one of those guys. He ate with them. He got trained by them. He got shouted at by them. And then, finally, he became one of them.
That’s the reason Liar’s Poker remains such a gluttonously readable book. As an appalled, impassive observer, Lewis explains in detail all the trickery, all the underhand finagling, all the mad financial instruments that were so avidly invented, used and thrown away again to make these Salomon hustlers so much green.
But while he was standing around watching the greatest money-making machine in history churn itself into overdrive, Lewis also became — of course — one of the monsters he was trying to describe: another 25-year-old salesman grappling his way up the blood-spattered corporate pole as he made a quarter of a million bucks a year.
Big Swinging Dicks. Food-frenzy Fridays. The Human Piranha (a trader who explained his market philosophy with insights like: “If you fucking’ buy this bond in a fuckin’ trade, you’re fuckin’ fucked”). It was all here. And Lewis hated and loved and noted down every last minute of it.
It’s as though for the two heady, snarling years he was smoking the Salomon’s crack pipe, Lewis just couldn’t resist hanging around to watch this end-of-Rome spectacle of Wall Street’s biggest bond-trading behemoth being driven into the earth by the most venal, self-serving manager assholes ever to overindulge an expense account.
Thank God he did. His book is one of those lucky, sempiternal classics, like Michael Herr’s Vietnam war book Dispatcheswho sees the horror in front of him and is as fascinated as he is disgusted by what he witnesses. Out of it he wrote this brilliant, funny, indelible bit of reportage about what greedy guys get up to at the corporate all-you-can-eat buffet., in which a moment of history is captured by a young reporter
It’s the reason Liar’s Poker is still the book that every aspiring Gordon Gekko wants to read as a how-to manual to saving your hide in the junk bond jungle.
Because, even as Lewis describes his own slide down the slope of his own personal apocalypse (he high-tailed it out of Salomon at the start of 1988) he still makes it sound like the most gloriously exciting time in the most exciting place that has ever existed in human history.
What better way to arrive for a dinner built around the wines consumed by James Bond in “Goldfinger” than an Aston Martin.
Words by:DUNCAN QUINN
A Bentley may well have been the motor of choice of Fleming’s Eton educated Bond, but Cubby Broccoli’s milkman from Edinburgh began with a preference for Astons. And despite the odd dalliance over the years the DB mark still seems to be the screenshot of choice.
Hence the Aston Martin DB9. Big sister to the sublime Vanquish we cleaned the cobwebs out of in LA not so long ago. And although the DB9 is a little more built for comfort than speed, she’s no slouch. In fact, it would be a crime to suggest so. When you plant your right foot the spitfire-like V12 spools up into life catapulting you up the road with more than enough oomph to relocate your spleen. And like all true GT cars the oomph just keeps coming until you’re so far past the speed limit you may as well just keep going and not look back.
Agile in the same way that a large cat defies inertia, the huge Pirelli boots she wears guarantee she’s glued to the road. It’s all about the journey, not just the destination.
With more horses than Saxon & Parole she seemed the perfect steed to arrive, tuxedo’d up to the max to imbibe and inspire the lucky few with a few tall tales of James Bond like prowess out in the woods of upstate New York.
Words by:NEIL FERRIER
My grandfather was a pilot. He decided that a serious pilot needed a serious watch. Luckily for me, he fell for a relatively unpopular and quirky square one. Little did he know he was buying a watch which would become a modern classic. Tied for all time to the king of cool, Steve McQueen, and his 1971 performance in another sleeper of modern culture, “Le Mans”.
It was transferred to me, broken, via a sock drawer. Probably better than some other scenarios you can imagine. Sitting in its beautiful red Heuer box with original papers from Cairncross Jewellers in Perth, Scotland. I was in my teens. I didn’t really know what it was.
My parents did. So thanks to them six months later it returned from Tag Heuer in Switzerland, good as new, and just in time for my 21st birthday. Many would have put the red box somewhere safe, insured it for a small fortune, and left it to play with an automatic winder. But those many weren’t my grandfather. And they are not me.
So for nine long years this watch saw everything. College in two countries. My wedding and countless others. A move to California. And, sadly, many family members passing on (including my mother). Nothing phased it. But time, literally, took it’s toll, and my once pristine watch achieved the patina of living life as a daily timepiece.
Sending it to Tag seemed impersonal. My 1133 has a story and needed a hand which understoodthat. And respected it. Eventually, I found Abel, hidden in the depths of murky online watch forums. I saw an Autavia he had completed an astonishing renovation on. I was sold. I just had to convince him to work on mine in his limited spare time.
I am humbled by his attention to detail and the new life given to my old watch. Dings and scratches are somehow miraculously gone. The brushed finish is factory perfect. It is serviced, pressure checked and ready to rock.
Like any great machine, it was built to run. So I look forward to what the next 10 years will bring us. Dings and all.
Words by: DINEGIRL
Besides the movies, in what real life context might this be appropriate behavior?
Tucked away from all the flash in a pan NYC restaurants is one of the few remaining institutions of the past. Tiro A Segno is the oldest Italian heritage organization in the United States, and is quietly situated in a beautiful four story building on MacDougal street. There is a lot of intrigue surrounding Tiro (“tiro a segno” translates to “shoot the target”) – from the tight membership, not knowing what really goes on here (and knowing to keep your mouth shut), to the old school rifle range in the cellar. So it’s no surprise that dinner invites to Tiro get rsvp’ed yes straight away. It’s a tough place to get into if you don’t have the right connections, and there just aren’t many manly places left in an overly politically correct world.
On a very chilly Wednesday night, 25 of us gathered upstairs on the 4th floor private dining lounge for a Super Tuscan Biserno wine dinner. Hosted by Lodovico Antinori and Duncan Quinn in probably the most appropriate venue one could ask for, the night was Tuscany meets Italian American New York. Jacket and tie mandatory, and they dust one off for you if you’re not appropriately attired.
Places like Tiro are heavy on the atmosphere, so you might not expect much from the food. But surprisingly for this dinner the cuisine measured up beautifully. To start, the always classic caprese salad was served with a drizzling of Biserno’s own extra virgin olive oil, which was bright and fruity. Next course included a seafood risotto, perfectly buttery and creamy and delicious – a highlight of themeal. But the stars of the night were the wines. Il Pino di Biserno 2008 was well rounded, ripe, with just a hint of warm spice tones. Biserno 2008 was full bodied and bold, with deep berry harmony. This is your top of the line show piece Super Tuscan which should sit in your cellar for 20 years to mature.
Lodovico gave a beautiful speech in the warm candlelight about his passion for the terroir, care in production, and what it means to be an artisan. We finished off the evening with some fire igniting, throat clearing, puts-hair-on-your-chest 1990 Ron Navazos Palazzi. And of course the evening started and ended with a glass (or two, or three) of our old friend Krug Grand Cuvée. This is the ultimate in Barbarian Dining, and yet ironically no one was barbaric that night. Perhaps its knowing that there is live ammunition a few flights down, the fancy table setting, or the refined grapes in an alluring setting. Or maybe it’s just that everyone is on their best and most gentlemanly behavior in the hopes of getting invited back to such a storied place.